Thursday, January 26, 2006

Senators on Alito

Here’s a collection of excepts with the sentiments of United States Senators who have announced they will vote against confirming Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Chris Dodd (D-CT)

“This nomination is not a routine matter. The next Justice of the Supreme Court will have an enormous impact on the lives of each and every person in Connecticut and throughout America. Now more than ever, any nominee to the Supreme Court must prove to the nation that he or she will be independent, will respect the settled law of the land, and will be committed to the core principle of our law: equal justice for all. Samuel Alito has not met that burden of proof before the American people.

“His legal philosophy is outside the mainstream. That philosophy has caused him to support dramatic new powers for the government and fewer rights for ordinary citizens. In Judge Alito’s America, the President would act with radical new powers -- unchecked by either the Congress or the courts as envisioned by the framers of our constitution.”

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“I am deeply concerned about how Justice Alito will impact the ability of other families to live the American dream – to be assured of privacy in their homes and their personal lives, to be secure in their neighborhoods, to have fair treatment in the workplace, and to have confidence that the power of the executive branch will be checked.

“When asked whether he believed the president could invade another country, in the absence of an imminent threat, without first getting the approval of the American people, of Congress, Judge Alito refused to rule it out. When asked if the president had the power to authorize someone to engage in torture, Alito refused to answer.

“The administration is now asserting vast powers, including spying on American citizens without seeking warrants – in clear violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – violating international treaties, and ignoring laws that ban torture. We need justices who will put a check on such overreaching by the executive, not rubberstamp it.”

Joe Biden (D-DE)

“I plan to vote no on the nomination of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, and I do so for three reasons: first, his expansive view of executive power; secondly, his narrow view of the role of the Congress; and third, his grudging reading of anti-discrimination law reflecting, in my view, a lack of understanding of congressional intent and the nature of discrimination in the 21st century.

“All public officials including judges in my view must understand prejudice still lurks in the shadows. And my examination of Justice Alito's record demonstrates to me that he does not look into the shadows.”

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

“I have grave concerns about how he [Alito] would rule on cases involving the application of the Bill of Rights in a time of war. Some of the most important cases that the Supreme Court will consider in the coming years will involve the government’s conduct of the fight against terrorism. It is critical that we have a strong and independent Supreme Court to evaluate these issues and to safeguard the rights and freedoms of Americans in the face of enormous pressures.

“Yet Judge Alito’s record and testimony strongly suggest that he would do what he has done for much of his 15 years on the bench: defer to the executive branch in case after case at the expense of individual rights.

“This Senate’s decision on whether to consent to Judge Alito’s nomination will profoundly impact how liberty is realized in the United States… I found Judge Alito’s answers to questions about the death penalty to be chilling. He focused almost entirely on procedures and deference to state courts, and didn’t appear to recognize the extremely weighty constitutional and legal rights involved in any case where a person’s life is at stake.”

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

“If one is pro-choice in this day and age, with the balance of the Court in question, one can’t vote for Judge Alito. It is that simple. I’m very concerned about the impact he would have on women’s rights, including a woman’s right to make certain reproductive choices, as limited by state regulations in many cases.

“And then I began to think about all of the things the fundamental right to liberty in this country encompasses such as: end of life decisions, privacy of medical records, privacy from unwarranted government intrusion. On February 6 we begin the discussion and hearings on an interpretation of the use of force resolution to countenance something that none of us ever thought it would countenance – a threat to this liberty interest. And I came to the conclusion that the fundamental right to liberty is at issue with this nominee.”

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

“The stakes in this nomination could not be higher. This is the vote of a generation. If confirmed, Judge Alito will have an enormous impact on our basic rights and liberties for years and even decades to come.

“In evaluating Supreme Court nominees, there is no more important question than whether they are dedicated to equal justice under law. Judge Alito is highly intelligent, but his record does not show a judge who is willing to enforce the constitutional limitations on executive power when government officials intrude on individual rights.

“His record does not show a judge who is open to the claims of vulnerable individuals asking only justice against powerful institutions. His record does not show a judge who upholds the liberty and privacy of citizens seeking to protect their fundamental rights.

“His record just does not show a judge who will uphold equal justice under law. That is why I oppose his confirmation to the Supreme Court.”

Herb Kohl (D-WI)

“His restrictive view of Constitutional liberties was echoed in his thoughts about a woman's right to choose. In a 1985 job application, he expressed a legal view that there was no such right, and worked hard to craft a legal strategy that would chip away at -- and ultimately eliminate -- that right from the Constitution.

“When asked about this, Judge Alito has said -- in essence -- that was then, this is now. Yet even years after his work for the Reagan Administration, his narrow views on privacy echoed throughout his opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He would have placed more restrictions on a woman's freedom than other conservative judges -- including the woman he seeks to replace on the Supreme Court.”

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

“This is a nomination that I fear threatens the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans now and for generations to come. This President is in the midst of a radical realignment of the powers of the government and its intrusiveness into the private lives of Americans. This nomination is part of that plan. I am concerned that if confirmed this nominee will further erode the checks and balances that have protected our constitutional rights for more than 200 years. This is a critical nomination, one that can tip the balance on the Supreme Court radically away from constitutional checks and balances and the protection of Americans’ fundamental rights. “

Bill Nelson (D-FL)

“I have voted for almost all of President Bush’s judicial nominees; and, I greeted Judge Alito’s nomination with an open mind. But his many legal writings, judicial opinions and evasive answers both at his hearing and in our private meeting, convinced me he would tilt the scales of justice in favor of big government over the average person.

“Because he is not the centrist voice I believe this nation needs to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who fiercely defended the rights and liberties of all Americans, I’m going to vote no on his confirmation.”

Barack Obama (D-IL)

"The Judicial Branch of our government is a place where any American citizen can stand equal before the eyes of the law. Yet, in examining Judge Alito's many decisions, I have seen extraordinarily consistent support for the powerful against the powerless, for the employer against the employee, for the President against the Congress and the Judiciary, and for an overreaching federal government against individual rights and liberties.

"By ruling this way so many times over a course of so many years, Judge Alito simply does not inspire confidence that he will serve as an independent voice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Ken Salazar (D-CO)

“I am convinced, based upon a very careful review of his record, that Judge Alito will move the Supreme Court outside the mainstream of American law. Judge Alito’s judicial philosophy will expand Executive power too far, hurt the checks and balances built into our Constitution to protect us all, and roll back important civil rights protections that were achieved in our country through the sacrifices of many.”

Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

“Because of the approach taken by this nominee and his handlers, we did not much advance our knowledge of Sam Alito during the just-concluded hearings. Although Judge Alito responded to hundreds of questions, he meaningfully answered far too few of them. On too many issues, we were treated to artful evasions and pleasant banalities.

“Time after time, Judge Alito took careful cover in platitudes about the law, with which no nominee who has ever come before the Committee could have disagreed: Judge Alito declared, for example, no fewer than eight times, that he would keep an ‘open mind.’ But, has any nominee ever told us he would have a closed mind?

“He intoned, no fewer than six times, that ‘no one is above the law.’ But, has any nominee ever said that certain people are above the law? The American people were entitled to honest answers, not practiced platitudes. The American people deserved to hear more.”